Lot 435
  • 435

KEES VAN DONGEN | Nu debout sur fond vert et rose

300,000 - 400,000 EUR
696,500 EUR
bidding is closed


  • Kees van Dongen
  • Nu debout sur fond vert et rose
  • signed van Dongen (lower right); titled Nu debout sur fond vert et rose and signed van Dongen (on the reverse)
  • oil on canvas


Sale: Palais Galliera, Paris, March 7, 1975, lot 139 (titled Nu vert)
Private collection, Paris (acquired at the above sale)
Thence by descent to the present owner

Catalogue Note

“I adore living in this era [...] Yes, I love shiny things, sparkling precious stones, [...] beautiful women who inspire in me a carnal desire... and painting enables me to have complete control of it all, because what I paint is often the haunting realization of a dream or an obsession.”
Kees Van Dongen

This quote by Van Dongen appears to resonate perfectly with this painting, Nu debout sur fond vert et rose. The sensuality and bursts of colour are emblematic of the work the artist created in the 1920s and 30s, a period referred to by commentators of the time as the “Cocktail Era”. The artist was at the height of his popularity during this period and became one of the major personalities of Parisian society. Nu debout sur fond vert et rose is an ode to the frivolous and hedonistic Parisian lifestyle of this time. The model is an incarnation of the artist's feminine ideal, which he would take up again in the painting, Venus (1935-36), which has a very similar composition. In this painting, the artist’s fascination with the beauty of the female form is revealed, to the extent that critics gave him the nickname, “body psychologist”. 

This painting demonstrates Van Dongen's remarkable mastery of colour and light. While the fauvist colours of his early work have made way for a more measured palette, the powerful impastos and spontaneous strokes, as well as the originality of the framing and the candour of the green complexion contrasting with the well-defined pinks, express a radical modernity that is testament to the artist's continuous innovation.

As with his most famous works, here the painter skilfully uses electric lighting to sculpt the body and the face of the female model, in the manner of theatrical lighting. In doing so he highlights the eroticism emanating from his model, while also maintaining her sense of captivating mystery. For Louis Chaumeil, author of Van Dongen L’homme et l’artiste - La vie et l'œuvre (1967), Van Dongen's personality was “dominated by a zest for life and a passion for painting from his sensual impulses”. Here, we are very much at the heart of his approach; an artist who aspired to lead a “passionate life with women as his divine inspiration”.

This work will be included in the forthcoming Kees Van Dongen Digital Catalogue Raisonné, being prepared under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Plattner Institute, Inc.